Before the COVID-19 outbreak, field service organizations (FSOs) strived to become the best-in-class with specialized FSM platforms, remote access, and IoT-enabled technology that now enables them to create highly effective service delivery models that are customer-centric, outcome-based, and responsive.
While before their goals were to unlock customer excellence, increase profitability, and stand out on the market, now, their objectives are to either survive or thrive in the new normal.
When the pandemic hit, priorities changed and new drivers began moving the market at an accelerated pace toward digital transformation. The new normal is still a work in progress, but FSOs want to know what to expect and how they can grow in the future.
During the Field Service US Summit created by Copperberg this year, Steve Mason, COO at FieldAware, hosted a thought-provoking session about growth in the new normal to help FSOs strategize for the coming year and beyond.
FieldAware’s background story
Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, FieldAware was born in the cloud and is currently one of the most prominent field service management (FSM) software companies on the market. The company currently has a customer base of 21,000 users in 100 countries.
FieldAware’s technology helps its users achieve greater intelligence about their customers, which enables them to increase revenue, expand on the market, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce churn. Additionally, they can also use it to unlock business intelligence for increased productivity, resource efficiency, simplified processes, and reports and analytics.
In 2019, the company strived to identify best-in-class capabilities and create a strategy to help its customers succeed in the best-in-class world. A year later, in 2020, FieldAware was commended by Frost & Sullivan for its customer-focused comprehensive mobile FSM product portfolio. Additionally, the company’s mature and niche application — which promotes the extension of the existing infrastructure rather than its replacement — was recognized by Gartner and it is also very well-respected by independent analysts on the market.
Field service capabilities pre-COVID-19
Leveraging an outside view, the company constantly analyzed the market between 2017 and 2019 to identify the emergence of best-in-class capabilities which are still in demand today. Later, working with Bill Pollock, the President and Principal Consulting Analyst at Strategies For Growth℠, FieldAware started conducting more of its own research into the status quo of field service.
They found that, before the pandemic, there was a consolidation of field service providers, with 73% of them running their operations as profit centers. This changed the dynamic within the field service landscape and raised important questions about growing revenue and expanding operations. Although this trend has been fundamentally changing the market recently, it has been building over time.
The culture of growth and innovation-driven profit center models lead to a real spread of maturity across field service organizations, with 41% of them establishing off-the-shelf FSM solutions and 59% of them evolving at a steady pace.
So, the market experienced a real spread of capabilities just as the pandemic broke out and took over the world. During this period, changes have been driven by a combination of innovation and demand. And the main drivers influencing the field services community were focused on processes, customers, and finances.
Customers wanted quicker responses, more accurate service call scheduling, and improved asset availability. Providers were trying to meet these demands primarily, and then satisfy their business needs for improved services process efficiencies and enhanced WF utilization and productivity. Last but not least, they were also driven by mandates to drive increased service revenues as well.
FSOs have also employed top strategic actions to develop and improve KPIs, as well as invest in or integrate new technologies. As such, control, innovation, and field tech effectiveness have become essential for improving customer satisfaction, optimizing field service operations, and creating a competitive advantage.
Entering the new normal
Field service organizations have gone through immense economic pressure due to the continuing impact of COVID-19:
- 57% had customers who could not pay due to cash-flow issues;
- 78% were under pressure to reduce service support fees or increase services provided;
- 63% established prioritization for service delivery.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic had a global impact across the entire business spectrum, but for FSOs, these struggles have become conditions for change. However, this change has highlighted a widening gap between FSOs in terms of digital transformation, increased use of triage, and economic reality during the pandemic.
For instance, prior to COVID-19, 63% of FSOs had digital transformation projects underway. Then, during COVID-19, 71% of FSOs changed their digital transformation priorities. Remote diagnostics and customer self-service portals have become more popular, although, 55% of FSOs still face budget investment pressures, which they expect to continue, so for them, it’s important to use the right technology mix to maximize positive outcomes.
Luckily, the industry is well poised for change, as about 66% of the market is predominantly geared toward proactive and reactive service delivery models. This encourages the shift toward more hybrid, preemptive, servitization, and outcome-based models.
It goes without saying, but COVID-19 smashed barriers, forcing FSOs to change their priorities and shift toward modern service models that are also mutually dependent on digital transformation. Thanks to the best-in-class capabilities that began developing before the pandemic, the market is empowered to make this change smoothly.
In the new normal, field technicians will be just as fundamental to success as before, and they will be essential to producing consistently positive outcomes for best-in-class service delivery. Most FSOs have the right infrastructure in place and the initiative to invest in the right technologies in order to survive and thrive in the new normal.
In fact, in 2021, only 26% of FSOs are hoping to survive. The other 74% of them are creating market strategies for growth. Which category do you belong to?